Visiting rivers – the Mekong and the Nam Song

In a landlocked country like Laos, access to water comes in the form of rivers and lakes. So far I have visited two of its rivers, the Mekong next to Vientiane and the Nam Song  in Vang Vieng north of the capital. Vientiane sits on the eastern bank of the great Mekong river, where during the dry season the water is so low it allows for walking and games of ultimate frisbee on the riverbed. This weekend I headed north of Vientiane to Vand Vieng so I missed out on Saturday’s frisbee fun in the Mekong sand, but lucky for me the rainy season and high waters are still months away. Below are some simple shots of the Mekong at the moment.

Heading down to the Mekong riverbed

What I found at the bottom...

My first weekend trip took me to Vang Vieng, some 160 km north of Vientiane* for the popular activity of tubing i.e. floating down a river on an inflated inner tube of a tractor-tire. Because of the dry season waters were somewhat low in places, which meant that rather than floating we were paddling to make our way downstream. Following the tradition of tubing, such hard work had to be rewarded from time to time with appropriate amounts of Beerlao and occasional shots of lao-lao in riverside bars. My camera didn’t make it to tubing, but below are some views of the river taken from the hotel’s garden the next morning. In addition to tubing, Vang Vieng has a lot to offer in terms of views and activities. Although some people go tubing time after time, I will surely save some time from my next visit for some of the other pastimes on offer: rock climbing, caving, kayaking or trekking!

Downstream view of the river Nam Song

In the background, my next destination - the caves and rock climbing routes of Vang Vieng

*) 160 km with the local roads and traffic takes a minimum of 3-4 hours of driving, preferably with a sturdy vehicle that can handle the potholes, sudden disappearance of asphalt and general bumpiness of the ride. Motion sickness aids recommended for those prone to feeling sick on mountain roads!

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